Friday, May 4, 2012

Observations From Deep Storage: The Art of Surprise

Guest blogger Jim Gipe is the founder of the Florence-based digital photo studio Pivot Media

If you don’t already know this, the Smith College Museum of Art has been digitizing its art collection since 1998. I am part of a team that, in the last 14 years, has systemically photographed, cataloged, uploaded, and linked nearly 50,000 digital files of artwork and exhibitions.

Specifically, though, I am a DigiGuy. This is the affectionate name given my colleague, Stephen Petegorsky, and me by the Museum’s staff.  When we arrive for our quarterly photo sessions you can often here a squawk over the security radios; “The DigiGuys are here” they announce, as we are led by staff, down stairs and through locked doors leading to “Deep Storage.”

It was here, deep in the basement of Tryon Hall, that I was first surprised by art.  The date was June 10th, 2005, and we were in Phase II of the digitization timeline—direct digital capture using a Sinar four shot camera.  Stephen was making the photographs and I was color correcting the digital files to match the original artwork.  That day, the artwork was coming from the print room, stored in archival boxes and rolled in on a cart.  I navigated my mouse to the next set of camera files and turned to open the grey box on top of the cart.  As I lifted the lid, my first thought was “WOW”, followed by “Oh my!”  I was looking at Ace of Spades by Salvador Dali.  This was possibly the most phallic image I had ever seen in my life, and I’d seen roughly 14,000 pieces of art by this point. This image takes the word “perspective” to a new level that is neither flush nor straight.  The piece is from the series, Playing Card Suite (1970), which is Dali’s depiction of the royalty from a common deck of playing cards.  But, as you can see, there is nothing common about these aristocrats.

Salvador Dali. Spanish, 1904–1989. Playing Card Suite: Ace of Spades, 1970. Lithograph printed in color on paper. Gift of Reese Palley and Marilyn Arnold Palley. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe.

Playing Card Suite: Queen of Spades, 1970. Lithograph printed in color on paper. Gift of Reese Palley and Marilyn Arnold Palley. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe.

Playing Card Suite: King of Diamonds, 1970. Lithograph printed in color on paper. Gift of Reese Palley and Marilyn Arnold Palley. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe.

Playing Card Suite: Jack of Diamonds, 1970. Lithograph printed in color on paper. Gift of Reese Palley and Marilyn Arnold Palley. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe.

Comments

Jim Gipe

Deep Storage

This is so cool. How amazing it would be to own a deck of cards by Dali? Thanks for sharing,

BJ Larson
Deputy Director
NEMA

Kim Hicks

Dali playing cards

Thanks for giving us access to these little gems from deep storage--I'd love to see the originals on display, someday.

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